Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Church as a Tourist Attraction:

The Church as a Tourist Attraction:

1- I know the words “tourist attraction” might shock some of you, but remember two things:

· Making the Church a tourist attraction is not the objective—tourism is just a method to bring people to the church.

· Tourist attraction has many benefits as mentioned above.

2- The idea of using a church as a tourist attraction is well known in many parts of the world. For example, In Paris, tourists visit the Notre Dame Church. In Egypt , tourists don’t visit just the Pyramids; they also visit the old churches in Old Cairo, the old monasteries, and the new Cathedral in Cairo . In Washington , D.C. , tourists visit the National Cathedral and the Catholic Basilica of the National Shrine, in the Catholic University campus.

3- People like to visit “Tourist attractions” as long as they find something there for them, historical or cultural or artistic, just to mention a few.

4- By using the church as a “Tourist Attraction,” the Church is open to local people and to tourists from all over the world. Some of those visitors would never hear about the Orthodox faith unless the Church is open for them.

5- Tourists like picking up free brochures or booklets and buying books and gifts. They also like having tours and finding someone to explain the site for them and to answer their questions. Therefore, it is easy to evangelize in this very simple way.

6- In addition to the above advantages, let me add the following:

- 7- People will come voluntarily to your church. To appreciate that, think about the efforts someone could make to convince a person to come to the church and how long that could take.

8- People will not only come, but they will gladly listen to your spiritual talk during the tour and have their questions answered.

9- People will also be happy to receive all your free brochures, flyers, booklets, books, and booklets.

10- People will directly experience the touch of the house of the Lord and the work of the Holy Spirit.

11- Some people will be happy to come to your Bible study.

12- Some people will be eager to sit with a priest.

13- People can visit other Orthodox Churches worldwide if they have a list of all Orthodox Churches in the world.

Some people discovered the power of evangelism through the use of a church as a tourist attraction. They have a church that was not built to serve a congregation, but was built for the purpose of evangelism. This church is in Orlando , Florida , next to Disney World, and it is called, “Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine.”

To attract tourists, you have to have something unique and attractive. So,

What Are The Unique and Attractive Attributes in the Coptic Orthodox Churches in North America, Europe, or Australia?

1- Some churches have unique Coptic structures with domes and church towers. This beautiful structure is very attractive to Americans. In Clearwater, Florida, I remember when our church was completed, a journalist called me insisting to visit the church, even if the church was closed. She came while the church was closed and told me that her friends could not stop talking about the beauty of the structure of the building. On that day, I explained to her the spiritual meaning of the structure of the building. I expected the visit will last for a few minutes, but to my surprise we spent almost two hours there; she was thirsty to hear about this great spirituality.

2- Most of our churches have the old ICONOSTASIS (Icon holder), which is the wooden divider between the altar and the nave of the church.

Did you know that the making of this iconostasis goes back to the fourth century? We can easily write this in our brochures and web pages--we invite people to come to see artifacts from the fourth century. The Iconostasis we have today has the same design and woodwork that were available since the fourth century.

3- Most of our churches have Coptic Icons:

Coptic art is unique to the Coptic Church. People will love to see the icons and learn about the spiritual meaning behind each icon.

4- Adding a museum can be an addition unique attribute. It can be a simple museum with pictures of monasteries and churches. More people will come to see your museum. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated. Whatever you show, it is more likely that the visitors have never seen before. When you write about it, mention the word “ Egypt .” Remember, people are fond of Egypt. Let me add something else here; our churches could be eligible for some grants from the government because of the cultural awareness that this project brings. Amazingly, most of Islamic mosques and schools, if not all, get grants from the government, because the government defines the mosques and schools as cultural centers. Our churches never thought about how to get federal or local grants.

If your church has one of the features mentioned above, then your church could be used as a tourist attraction.


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